Want to save bundles on your marketing and PR budget? Use HARO.
HARO (which stands for “Help a Reporter Out – HelpAReporter.com) is a go-to favorite PR resource that every entrepreneur, business owner, expert and author should know about and subscribe to. Three times a day, HARO sends its readers no-cost media opportunities in selected fields, like healthcare, business and finance, education, entertainment and media.
Over the last ten years, and with plenty of trial and error, I’ve discovered that there’s a right way and a wrong way to respond to a HARO press opportunity for maximum impact. Learn the right way and you’ll have a better chance of getting picked up by the media.
Here’s an example of a HARO query about Self Marketing and Promotion that I responded to a while back. I’m also including comments, so you can easily see my approach and method:
Let’s start off with the reporter’s pitch:
Category: Business and Finance
Media Outlet: Anonymous
Deadline: 7:00 PM CST – 25 July
Query: Self-Marketing/Promotion Tips Wanted. We’re looking for experts who have tips on marketing themselves on a budget.
Here’s my response, broken down into smaller sections with comments:
In the email subject line, use the exact title that the reporter used for his or her query.
Email subject: HARO: Self-Marketing Promotion
Typically with HARO, there’s a contact name, which I’d address in the response. This one is anonymous, so I just used “Hello”.
Start by noting who you are, what you do, your website URL and your credentials. Remember: reporters are looking for EXPERTS, so you need to state right off the bat that you’re qualified.
My name is Robin Samora and I’m a marketing and PR expert, consultant and speaker from Boston, MA. I believe in giving straight marketing advice, so you don’t have to waste time, money or resources on what doesn’t work.
Next, provide a one sentence lead-in that ties directly into what the reporter is looking for. Though you may be tempted write more here – as you might with a proposal – resist that urge. All you want to do is confirm that you understand what is required here.
Here are 7 tips for Self-Marketing/Promotion
From there, provide your content using a list, bullet or point-form. Share at least 3 – 5 points that cite you as an expert. Note: These tips are longer than required but provide an example of the content you could include and provide a teaching lesson as well!
- Share your knowledge. Offer an initial consultation where you provide some meaningful value and explain what you do, who you do it for and most importantly, how you help your clients solve problems and achieve goals. Your time investment can be as little as 15 minutes and it can be done over the phone, via Zoom or in person if it’s practical (and safe) to do so. Stay organized and keep track of your appointments with a calendar invite like mine.
- Stay in touch with your clients and prospects — and often. While this may strike you as one for the “hey, I knew that already!” file, I’m amazed at how often smart and successful people neglect to stay in touch with their clients and prospects on a regular basis – especially with what’s going on in the economy. Really, “staying in touch” doesn’t mean hounding someone every day on email or voicemail. Simply sending out a quick email, a video message, a link to an article of interest, a hand-written birthday card or even passing along a thoughtful referral are all excellent – and virtually cost-free – ways to stay on the radar screen.
- Create a targeted message in all of your communication. A confused mind never buys. That’s why it’s critical to know who your target audience is and make it a priority to stay in front of them. Be consistent with your branding and messaging. Mix it up, but track what works. Email, blogs, social media, texts, video, FAQs, invoices, brochures, premiums, signage — even on your voice mail. Plan ahead with social media and use an editorial calendar to share valuable information, not spammy self-promotion. Remember the 80/20 rule. Share OPC first (other people’s content) and yours 20% of the time. Fool around with your percentages and you’ll lose your fan base and their trust.
- Build a referral base. While many successful people rely on referrals and “word of mouth” advertising, I’m continuously struck by how few of them actively build a strong referral base. There’s really nothing to it and honestly, a little goes a long way. All it takes is a small thank you gesture (gift certificates work great) to those who have helped build your business. Also, don’t shy away from asking for referrals. Just be polite, clear and willing to return the favor. If a client has enjoyed your product or service, they’re usually happy to recommend you. Here’s an episode from the Fast Marketing Minute podcast on How to Surprise and Delight Your Customers.
- Send out a personal “State of the Union” address. Twice a year, write a personalized letter to your clients and tell them what you’re doing with your work, a PG version of what’s going on with your life, recent accomplishments and how you’re growing personally and professionally. Now is not the time to boast or tell them about your yacht. Context is important. Instead, thank everyone who has helped make your achievements possible and single out some of your role models who have served as an inspiration (whether you personally know them or not).
- Let your clients and prospects know where you’re presenting. Speaking at an industry event – even if it’s virtual – qualifies you as an expert. By inviting your clients, you’re letting them know you’re up to something big and worthy of their business. If your email gets ignored, don’t be surprised. We’re in the middle of challenging times. You can still follow up though. Send a recap, press release, follow-up article – or maybe a link to the slide deck, if it makes sense. If you’ve just written a book, send a signed copy with a note. This kind of communication and connection strengthens the bond with the people in your network, which in turn strengthens your marketing efforts.
- Get your name out there. If you don’t have a media department behind you, consider hiring a marketing intern, virtual assistant or office admin to respond to online media requests like HARO (“Help a Reporter Out”), ProfNet, SourceBottle, or PitchRate. Responses to the media should be respectful, polite and on target. Want to know what’s being said about you? Set up a Google Alert. Trust me, you’ll love watching your press mentions grow!
I hope these tips help with your story. Please don’t hesitate to contact me at (617) 921–3448 if you have any questions.
Thanks for your consideration,
Always include a customized email signature with a call to action at the end of your pitch. It helps you stand out, promote your expertise and highlights your latest projects. Noteworthy emails always get saved and often forwarded!
Marketing & Promotions Expert | Consultant
Tel: 617-921-3448 (Eastern)